Posts Tagged 'latitude xt'

Windows 8 Developer/Consumer Preview on the Latitude XT

UPDATE – April 2, 2012: N-Trig have posted beta drivers for Windows 8, enabling single-touch, clickthrough and basic multitouch on the Dell Latitude XT under Windows 8 (Consumer Preview).

The Windows 8 Previews install quite straightforwardly onto the Latitude XT, but does not include a driver for the XT’s integrated GPU; likewise, a driver is also not (yet?) available via Windows Update. As such, the display is noticeably slow to update and runs at a lower-than-native resolution.

As of writing, a working solution appears to be to install a “legacy” Windows Vista driver, available for download from AMD. (The linked page refers to the 32-Bit edition of Windows Vista, but the package appears to contain both 32-Bit and 64-Bit drivers; I got this to work using the 32-Bit driver on a 32-Bit installation of the Windows 8 Developer Preview.)

When loaded, the installer may not detect the integrated graphics card and so refuses to install the driver. In which case, the thing to do is start ‘Windows Explorer’, right-click ‘Computer’ and choose ‘Properties’ from the menu which appears.

In the window which opens, choose ‘Device Manager’ (on the left) and then navigate to the Display adapter, which may appear as “Microsoft Basic Display Adapter”. Right-click on the adapter and choose ‘Update Driver Software’ from the menu which appears.

In the window which opens, choose ‘Browse my computer for driver software’ and on the next page ‘Browse..’ to the folder into which the package downloaded from AMD extracted the driver. On my XT, this was C:\ATI\Support\10-02_legacy_vista32-64_dd_ccc\Packages\Drivers\Display. With the folder selected, and the ‘Include subfolders’ box ticked, click ‘Next’ and the driver should install.

With this DirectX 9 driver installed, the display updates smoothly, at native resolution, and scores reasonably well under the Windows Experience Index:

Windows 8 on Latitude XT
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Re: Slowly, then all at once.

A second KingSpec 128GB 1.8″ 40-pin ZIF Solid State Disk only survived four weeks’ very occasional use before it, too, expired. On one otherwise unremarkable evening, I placed the XT on a sideboard and shut the lid, putting it to sleep.

A short while later, on hearing the fan running at full speed, I opened the lid only to be greeting by an unfriendly MS DOS-style error message. “System Error”, “Error reading from disk” or somesuch. Whatever it was, the computer refused to boot at the next time of asking. I was, later, able to use Windows 7’s System Recovery Options to recover some files from the stricken SSD.

Much to their credit, the drive’s vendor agreed to RMA it (again) and replace it with a RunCore Pro IV 1.8″ 5mm PATA Zif Solid State Drive SSD. Three weeks later, and it’s.. well, still working.

Slowly, then all at once.

The blurb for the KingSpec 128GB 1.8″ 40-pin ZIF Solid State Disk (MLC) claimed a “write endurance” of 10 gigabytes per day for 80 years, and an “unlimited” “read endurance.” After very nearly 10 months’ reading and writing considerably less than that, mine went wallop.

It happened much as per Hemingway‘s description of how people go bankrupt: the first sign of trouble was Windows Explorer hanging while copying (reading, not writing) a file. This failed with a Device I/O error, then chkdsk reported “10 bad clusters”, and then the host PC refused to boot at the next time of asking.

Happily, the drive’s vendor agreed to RMA the drive and exchanged it for what looks like a later revision of the same model. Once installed, Windows 7 reported the following:

Windows Experience Index rating for a Dell Latitude XT and a KingSpec SSD

Which is to say, not quite the same but also not very different.


UPDATE: This second KingSpec SSD lasted just four weeks before it, too, expired.

Latitude XT + 128GB SSD + Windows 7 RTM

Windows Experience Index rating for a Dell Latitude XT under Windows 7

The scores for graphics are higher than under Windows 7 RC – lifting the overall score – but the experience is not much changed: it’s still snappy and responsive.

Drivers are provided, out-of-the-box, for for all of the XT’s hardware bar the multi-touch screen. The touch screen’s manufacturer, N-trig, have made Windows 7-specific drivers available; although the as-of-writing link on the page refers to the “Windows 7 Release Candidate”, the download itself seems to contain up-to-date drivers for Windows 7 RTM.

To enable automatic re-orientation of the XT’s display when switching between notebook- and slate-modes, install the Dell QuickSet application (the XT does not have an accelerometer like, say, the iPhone). Dell do not appear to be providing Windows 7-specific drivers (and other software) for the XT, but the Windows Vista version of QuickSet seems fully compatible with 7.


UPDATE: The KingSpec SSD featured in this post died after 10 months.

UPDATE 2: A second KingSpec SSD lasted just a further four weeks before it, too, expired.

Latitude XT + 128GB SSD + Windows 7

Speaking of ZIF SSDs:

Windows Experience Index rating for a Dell Latitude XT and a KingSpec SSD

That is, a 5.8 for a 128 GB KingSpec SSD under 64-bit Windows 7 Release Candidate. Apart from the “Disk data transfer rate”, some of the scores for other components are lower than under Windows Vista, possibly because the scale has changed, at the top end, from 5.9 to 7.9.

To use, the SSD-equipped XT is snappy and responsive, though only slightly more so than when fitted with a 5400 RPM HDD (and the cache had been warmed up). The more substantial difference is that the machine is available for use almost immediately after log in; no need to wait for SuperFetch to fill its cache(s), which seemed to take as long as ten minutes.

Beyond the SSD, Windows 7 seems a good fit for the XT: drivers are provided, out-of-the-box, for every component bar the touch screen, drivers for which are otherwise available here. Once installed, the touch experience is much smoother than under Vista, up to and including inertial scrolling, which exhibits a pleasant bounce effect at the top or bottom of a page in Internet Explorer.


UPDATE: The KingSpec SSD featured in this post died after 10 months.

UPDATE 2: A second KingSpec SSD lasted just a further four weeks before it, too, expired.


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